Dane County judge recuses himself from homicide suspect’s hearing because he presided over victim’s funeral

August 3, 2018

Everett Mitchell

A judge told a Madison man charged with first-degree intentional homicide that he couldn’t preside over the man’s preliminary hearing Thursday morning because he presided over the victim’s funeral.

Antonio R. Gentry, 36, charged with the execution-style shooting of Rayshawn Jackson on May 16, had his preliminary hearing rescheduled for later this month after Dane County Circuit Judge Everett Mitchell told Gentry that Jackson was a member of his church and that he presided over Jackson’s funeral.

“A different judge will be selected who knows nothing about the case,” Mitchell told Gentry.

Mitchell, elected as a Dane County circuit judge in 2016, is the pastor at Christ the Solid Baptist Church on Parkside Drive on the Far East Side. According to the church’s website, he joined the church in 2011 and was voted in and installed as pastor in 2012.

He said Wisconsin’s Judicial Code of Conduct allows him to work as a pastor. In an interview with Isthmus, Mitchell said the church doesn’t pay him but does give him a housing allowance and the compensation arrangement falls within code of conduct guidelines.

The Texas-born Mitchell received undergraduate degrees in religion and mathematics from Morehouse College in Atlanta. Prior to graduating from the UW-Madison Law School, Mitchell received a master’s of divinity and a masters of theology in social ethics from Princeton Theological Seminary. The church’s website says Mitchell has served a wide variety of denominational and non-denominational congregations in his career. He also is a well-known revivalist and conference leader.

Police say Gentry shot Jackson, 24, in the head from close range outside an apartment building on Waunona Woods Court on Madison’s South Side. They had been arguing over a woman prior to the shooting. Jackson died five days later.

Gentry also faces multiple felony charges for allegedly attempting to shoot some members of Jackson’s family and others who witnessed the shooting and attempting to flee the area by carjacking vehicles. The charges include attempted first-degree intentional homicide, two counts of second-degree recklessly endangering safety, armed robbery, three counts of attempted armed robbery and theft from a corpse.

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